I do not usually photograph people. In the last few years I’ve started to snap the occasional photograph when I’m around friends or family but it’s primarily for their benefit (often only because I’m explicitly asked to.) In a society that loves a selfie or a group photo-op this may seem like odd behavior. Let me explain why it isn’t.
The photograph above was taken in 2005. What you’re looking at is a post at the end of a dock with some still water reflecting some tall Colorado clouds. It was taken with a Pentax K1000 on Ilford Pan F50 film. It was developed in a dark room by myself and carefully tinted, then scanned into a computer. That’s all you’re getting out of this photo. Those facts.
What I get out of this photo is more distinct than that. It is, in my head, a better picture of the events that were going on that day and a more vibrant image of the people I was with than a group photo-op or a hundred selfies. The location was a small pond behind an HP office building in Loveland, Colorado. The pond was past a second security checkpoint and down a small paved road. See, the company that had owned the land previously accidentally poisoned the little pond which HP took on in the real estate deal. Just out of frame to the top my father was kicking around on his little inflatable pontoon boat in his new waders, working on fly fishing. He had no intentions of eating anything he caught, but it was a quiet little place to practice fishing. The day was a bit chilly. Mom sat in the Ford Expedition parked nearby listening to music and watching the clouds pass. Tyler was diligently fishing the next pond over. Ben paced the shore’s edge looking for a place to cast, not meeting much success. Molly busied herself by investigating pretty much everything; a lot of that everything was bugs. The day was a bit chilly in the way Colorado can get, with the sun warming your skin just as much as the thin air cools it. It was a good day.
That is what that photo tells me. Why would I need photos of every insignificant detail and a hundred forced smiles when every frame is entrenched with memories. If I were to try recalling that day without seeing this photo, I would find nothing in my mind by way of record. With this photo, though? With this photo I have everything.
This is true of more than just the one photo. This is true of every photo I take.
That one? Back home after being away, hiking with Alex and Ben and Molly near Garden of the Gods Park. We were trying to get some decent portrait shots but everyone save myself suffered some rather severe allergic reactions. Puffy red faces do not make for great portraits.
And that? Teaching the younger bro-bot how to operate a camera out by the Hayman burn area. That black frame he’s holding up saw plenty of abuse as we searched for the perfect shot, perhaps dropping it more than thrice.
This I snapped while killing time in Boulder, waiting for Isla to finish class. We hadn’t seen each other in what felt like an age so I faffed about anxiously until I wound up on top of a nearby hill with some sort of large structure that breathed dragons into the icy air.
I don’t begrudge people who take photos of themselves and the people they are around. Not in the least. For many people it’s a great way to remember the day and remember the events.
But do not suspect that because I’m not taking portraits I’m not capturing memories.
And when I do take portraits? They mean that much more.
The defining theme of my last four years has been “identifying weaknesses.”
Listing my findings here would be purely masturbatory, so I’ll skip that bit. However I do want to share a little something I’ve learned. I want to share it in hopes that it may resonate with others, but more so because it gives me some accountability to friends/family/anonymous-readers.
It turns out that I’m of that class of individuals that need structure in order to advance themselves.
Only loose structure, really. Just something to compel me forward and give me (again) accountability. If something is of no consequence to anyone but me then I’m likely to let it slip. This is evident to anyone who knows me at work and outside of work. Because my work affects others it receives my dedicated efforts. Because things outside of work only affect myself… well, not so much with the effort (that laundry pile will take care of itself, right?).
But identifying weaknesses then doing nothing is a disservice to myself and my work. It is dishonest.
The result, then, being that I’ve developed something that I refuse to call a plan. It’s a goal, or an aspiration, or a series of intended events around which I am scheduling my life. It is not a plan.
Step 1) Associate’s Degree in Computer Engineering - This anchors me to Seattle until 2016 (after which is a trip to Ireland, but that’s for another post) and prepares me for step 2.
Step 2) Human-Computer Interaction and Design at University of Washington - By the time I finish this program I should pop out into a rapidly growing market where I can work on something exciting.
Whether I start this p-… uh, line of action… in the spring or in the summer will depend greatly on how my application process goes. There will be ghosts from the past attending that application. Ghosts and a feast of Pride.
A wayward home for writings, photographs, and content generated by Nicholas Patrick.
I have a website now. I’m hip.
You can find anything on the internet. The hard part is finding anything on the internet.
Looking for, say, a wood trunk about 13” x 7” x 7” ? The internet has trunks aplenty! It certainly has the trunk you’re looking for, but good luck finding it. As sellers compete to hit more and more search results the words associated with what they’re selling get more muddled.
I search “Wood Trunk” and click a promising link to see that it’s the wrong size, or it’s not actually wood, or it’s not actually a wood trunk but a wood box of Beatles records. Sellers attach every word that might describe anything related to what you’re looking for in hopes of getting your click and possible purchase. Hey, if you need a wood trunk then you DEFINITELY need some old records.
It’s going to take AI to save us from this, I think. Some sort of synthetic intelligence that can parse down keywords on products or interpret not just what you typed into the search bar but what you intended to find as a search result.
If we do make an AI for this, to save us from search clutter, it’s going to need a lot of therapy time with a robopsychologist when it runs into Etsy.
Part 2 of today’s calligraphy practice.
It means nothing.
Part 1 of today’s calligraphy practice. Got some proper ink into the pen with the crappy nib. Minor improvement.
This coincides with me finishing The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. It’s book two of the Kingkiller Chronicle which, when the final book is released early next year, will be a striking fantasy trilogy. I’d say it’s best described as “The story of how a Battle Mage became a Battle Mage.” It leans rather heavily on science and skirts around its fantasy elements as if it’s trying pointedly to ignore them.
Thrilling, joyous and terrible in the way only the end of a good book can be.
Today’s calligraphy practice came out better than I expected, in spite of the ink sputtering and my cheap nib biting at the paper.
As usual, it’s what I’m listening to - Selfless, Cold, and Composed by Ben Folds
More calligraphy practice.